Jorge Cedeño is a senior at Boston University studying communication with an emphasis in Public Relations. He has been a digital design intern for NBCUniversal since the fall of 2020. He is also the head of marketing for the BU chapter of the Association of Latino Professionals For America (ALPFA) which assists students in preparing for corporate level job opportunities.
In addition to his formal experience in digital marketing, Jorge runs an Instagram account dedicated to his design work, JC Illustrations, which he commissions and sells prints and stickers to customers across the country. In this Q&A, Jorge details his journey of finding his place in COM, making the most out of quarantine, and becoming an experienced creative at a large company.
Daniela Tellechea: What was your path to a public relations major at BU?
Jorge Cedeño: I actually came in as a business major. But once I started taking classes, I realized I wanted to do something more on the creative side and the business school was just not giving me that. So, I did my research and I found COM. I was torn between public relations and advertising, but decided to go with public relations because I felt like it was a degree I could do many things with.
Your experiences definitely show that you lean more towards the creative side of public relations. Which experiences on campus would you say have most shaped that desire for a design-focused public relations path?
ALPFA is where I got my first real-life experience with design. Coming in as a freshman, the organization was Questrom Latino, but it later merged into ALPFA. So, I kind of had to build it from nothing, since it was a new organization. It was also the first time I designed flyers for Instagram. I’m now the head of marketing and I create flyers, plan when and what we’re posting on social media, and write the weekly emails. Being in charge of building it, and seeing how far it’s come, I’m interested in seeing how far it will go.
Speaking of seeing how far things can go – back in May 2020 you started JC Illustrations, a mini design side-hustle, and now you’re getting commissioned to create everything from celebrity portraits, couple portraits, family portraits and even pet portraits. What inspired you to start it?
I started JC illustrations just for fun. It was during quarantine and I was bored at home, done with classes, and didn’t really have any responsibilities. I started playing around, posted something on Instagram and people started hitting me up asking for their own illustrations. Then I thought, what if I just dedicate a whole Instagram to this? So, I did and at first I thought it would stay within my friend group or family, but one thing led to another and now I do prints and stickers and holiday sales. I’ve even gotten messages from people that I don’t know and it’s interesting to see how they found me because I’m just doing this for fun, because I enjoy doing it.
Is there something specific about design you enjoy?
It’s a nice stress reliever. I just put some music on, start illustrating and it comes out nice. I can also tell the difference between the way I was doing it in the beginning to how I’m doing it now and I like seeing how I can improve things.
Your enjoyment and improvement obviously shows through your work as you were selected to be a remote digital design intern for NBCUniversal, for two semesters. Will you walk The COMmunicator readers through a day at your internship?
When I sign on, I get assigned tickets and I create ads for clients outside of NBC that want to promote things on say, NBC San Diego or NBC New York. The digital design team is in charge of creating those ads and animating them. So, based on the week, I have around two to three tickets for different sized ads. We also have a stand-up everyday where everybody goes over the tickets they’re working on. The team is pretty small. It’s like six designers, including me.
Are there other interns on the team?
No. I’m the only intern in my department and everybody else is pretty experienced, which was intimidating at first because I didn’t have any experiences with animation and coding. But they were very helpful.
Have your projects or duties this semester changed from last semester?
I am doing more client work now. Last semester, I got one pretty big ticket and it was more busy work, but now that I know how to do stuff, they’re actually giving me more client tickets. I also definitely see myself asking for less help now which is good. Because in the beginning, I was like, “Hello! I need help!” but now I’m doing tickets on my own and submitting them. The growth is there and I’m happy that I can see it and that my supervisors see it as well.
What made you apply to NBCUniversal in the first place?
I’ve always been interested in the entertainment industry, and always saw it as something I really wanted, but knew it was going to be hard to get. I actually applied for their 2020 summer fellowship, but unfortunately didn’t get it. I tried again for the fall and I got the offer. NBC has always been part of my life. Telemundo is always on in my house. So, working for Telemundo — for NBC — is crazy to think about. But it’s happening.
It is! What has been the most rewarding part of your time there?
Being part of the campaigns that you see, like when I search up NBC New York, and I see the ads I’ve been creating. My favorite project overall that I’ve worked on though would probably have to be for the 2022 World Cup. I’m excited to see it go live.
Do you think the experiences you’ve gained there have shaped your career goals at all going forward?
I feel like it has helped me know that I can work in a corporate company. After working at NBC, I see myself working at a big company and I know what it feels like to work in a big company, even if it’s just remote. I’m sure in person it will be the same, if not better.
If you could pick your dream job post-grad what would it be?
I definitely want to do something related to digital marketing or social media, preferably for a big entertainment company like NBC or Viacom. In the future, I do want to have time to work at a nonprofit, even if it’s part-time. Hopefully, eventually, I have the time and the funds to take on a full-time nonprofit job one day and just give back to the community.
What advice would you give another student looking to enter the creative digital marketing world?
There’s always space to learn and there is always going to be critiques. Especially in design, there’s always going to be different points of view. You just have to learn how to take it because it can be kind of hard in the beginning, but it helps you grow. Also, expand your horizons. I’ve taken on internships in a few different industries — nonprofit, entertainment, corporate, hospitality. Don’t be scared to try new things and you’ll definitely find something that sparks an interest.
What about any thoughts on entering the creative workforce during this pandemic?
Don’t compare yourself to others. I’ve always had professors tell me not to stress about not having a full-time opportunity right after college. Professor Shanler always said don’t compare yourself to other people, because it’s just different for other people. So I’m just going with the flow. I’m not going to be too hard on myself. Hopefully, something comes up in the near future — if not, it’s completely fine. I’ll find other things to do in the meantime.
Daniela Tellechea, Staff Writer
Hailing from Chico, a small town in Northern California, Daniela Tellechea is a senior in the College of Communication at Boston University studying public relations and minoring in Spanish. Daniela is passionate about storytelling and music and is currently interning at BCW Global and the Recording Academy. In her spare time, Daniela enjoys finding new music artists, reading and (safely) hanging out with friends.